ISLAMABAD: The government has designated July 7 (Friday) as Yaum-i-Taqaddus-i-Quran (day for the protection of the Holy Quran’s sanctity) to express outrage over the desecration incident in Sweden last week.

In addition, parliament will hold a joint session on July 6 (Thursday) to convey the nation’s shock and grief through its highest representative forum and will also adopt a resolution to condemn the desecration.

The decisions were announced after a meeting of the federal cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, to discuss the issue on Tuesday. It was decided that rallies would be held across the country on Friday to condemn the incident that occurred in Stockholm, the Swedish capital.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif appealed to the nation, including all political parties, to take part in the protest to convey a “message of unity to mischievous minds”.

Top UN rights body to hold urgent session at Pakistan’s request

The prime minister, who also heads the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, instructed his party to hold rallies across the country on Friday. “The sanctity of the Holy Quran is an integral part of our faith and all Muslims are united in grief” over the sacrilege in Sweden, PM Shehbaz said.

He said misguided individuals were being used by certain elements to execute their nefarious agenda of fanning Islamophobia.

“Nations and leaders believing in peace and coexistence should try to contain the violent forces out to sow hatred against Muslims,” the prime minister said.

“The violent mindset targeting religions, sacred personalities, beliefs and ideologies are enemies of peace.”

PM Shehbaz called upon forces which cherish peace and inter-faith harmony to play their role for ridding humanity of mischief-makers.

Urgent session Separately, the UN Human Rights Council has decided to hold an urgent session at Pakistan’s request to address the desecration of the Holy Quran, a spokesman said on Tuesday.

Pakistan and other nations called for a discussion of “the alarming rise in pre-meditated and public acts of religious hatred” as manifested by recurrent desecration of the Holy Quran in some European and other countries“.

The Geneva-based Human Rights Council meets for three regular sessions per year. The UN’s top rights body is currently in the second session, which runs until July 14.

The 47-member council will change its agenda to stage an urgent debate, following a request from Pakistan.

“The urgent debate will most likely be convened this week at a date and time to be determined by the bureau of the Human Rights Council that is meeting today,” spokesman Pascal Sim told reporters.

Khalil Hashmi, Pakistan’s ambassador in Geneva, wrote to the council president on Monday on behalf of the 19 members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) who are also on the council, to request an urgent debate.

Hashmi said the “provocative acts” on June 28 had been widely condemned and rejected worldwide.

“These unabated incidents demand immediate action by the Human Rights Council,” he said.

While recognising the right to freedom of opinion and expression, the OIC group has called for action to prevent recurrences and the development of legal deterrence measures.

Published in Dawn, July 5th, 2023

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